November 29, 2016

It's just so hard to ruin the term "alt-right."

I've just got to laugh at this NYT piece, "News Outlets Rethink Usage of the Term ‘Alt-Right.'"

Here you have a term that could have a broader or a narrower meaning, and there was an interesting opportunity for non-righties to do some damage. 
When The Washington Post published a profile last week of Richard B. Spencer, a prominent leader of the so-called alt-right, readers were quick to respond. By Monday, the article had drawn more than 2,600 comments. Many of them had a similar message.

“Please, please stop referring to a white Christian supremacist movement as the ‘alt-right’ — a phrase that sounds like a subgenre of rock music,” one reader wrote.
Commenters like that were not seeing what I think was WaPo's real motivation — to besmirch the larger group of righties by taking a label they might have liked and causing the general public to associate it with out-and-proud racists. That move turned out to be difficult, because if people learn the term only in association with the small, ugly subsection of the larger set, they think it looks like the press is propagating a euphemism. That reaction from people who were hearing the term for the first time has now caused the liberal press to "rethink" their scheme.

The NYT article proceeds to talk about Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, who has called Breitbart "the platform for the alt-right," but it doesn't admit the sleight of hand that was attempted. If "alt-right" could have been tied tightly to Spencer and overt racists, then it would seem as though Bannon is an admitted racist and is toxic. That plan seems to have failed because the intermediate step — equating "alt-right" with racist — outraged readers. Making racists seem okay and kind of cool was an unintended consequence.

So now we're seeing the media back off. For example:
The standards editor at NPR published a memo in mid-November titled “Guidance on References to the ‘Alt-Right,’” that encouraged an explanation of the term, and the progressive news site ThinkProgress said in a post last week that it would “no longer treat ‘alt-right’ as an accurate descriptor of either a movement or its members” because the term is used as a self-descriptor and obscures the group’s overt racism....

The New York Times has had many conversations about the term but has not banned it, said Phil Corbett, The Times’s standards editor. Reporters are encouraged to explain what the term means rather than use it as a label, he said.
I'm all for precision, but I think this recalibration is only happening because Plan A failed.


Hanseatic L said...

Insights like this are why we read this blog every day.

Michael K said...

Try this explanation.

Natural liberals, who instinctively enjoy diversity and are happy with radical social change – so long as it’s in an egalitarian direction – are now represented by both sides of the political establishment. Natural conservatives, meanwhile, have been slowly abandoned by Republicans — and other conservative parties in other countries. Having lost faith in their former representatives, they now turn to new ones — Donald Trump and the alternative right.

I am certainly not a member of the youth group that the authors say they represent but I am right with them in my sympathy.

That was last August.

caplight45 said...

Just so they don't try to start using "alt-house" as a moniker for the Professor.

Mike and Sue said...

"What is the ultimate goal of such rhetorical contortions?" is the more interesting question to me.

Is it merely to obtain acute political advantage so that the left may serve it's mission of "doing good" and pursuing truth and justice?

And if that be the case...why is accuracy and "the truth" not enough for them? Why the need for disinformatsiya?

The Drill SGT said...

Althouse quotes a man who was ejected from the Hillary speech.

“I call myself alt right because the conservative establishment right in this country does not represent my views, they are just as much to blame for the disaster taking place in America as the left, the alt right to me is fiscal responsibility, secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, ending the PC culture, and promoting AMERICA FIRST (Not Sharia First)… If you come to this country legally, follow the laws, learn our language, and love the country, you are equal, no matter your color, or religion. Basically alt-right is to separate ourselves from the failing establishment right.“

As much as those words are an anathema to the NYT and WaPo staff, they certainly don't make middle America cower

JAORE said...

The left is fond of changing labels to suit their purpose.

Global warming becomes climate change when a cold winter or ten hit.
Pro abortion becomes pro choice
Liberal becomes progressive when liberal gathers a negative connotation.
Racist becomes alt-right when racist is over used
Alt-right becomes.....

Brando said...

I don't know that "Plan A" failed--Trump himself is on record saying he doesn't want to encourage this "alt right". Clearly people are at least somewhat associating it with bigoted groups.

The thing is it's not some formal movement, so what you think of it is in the ear of the listener--sort of like "Tea Party" which I always thought of as a more pure libertarian wing of the conservative movement but later was used to encompass anything from religious right to neocon interventionists. In other words, ask a different person what they think the "alt right" is and you get a different answer.

There does seem to be too much attention paid to the outright racists though. Are they really a big part of anything, or just a loud and attention-getting subset?

Sharc said...

I watched this unfold on NPR. Until November, my impression of the term "Alt-Right" was that it merely represented conservatives frustrated with the establishment GOP and sick of political correctness. It was the Alt-Right who accused people like Paul Ryan of being a "cuck." But the label did not represent racists or supremacists, who at most were insignificant hangers-on. The term was not very well-defined.

As soon as Trump named Bannon, who had used the term Alt-Right to describe his Breitbart platform, NPR saw an opportunity. It created and started pushing its own definition of the term. So as of November, NPR suddenly equated the term Alt-Right with hardcore racism, specifically so that it could apply that definition *retroactively* to Bannon's own description of Breitbart. This had a definite 1984 quality to it -- change the language so that all one needed to do to show that Trump surrounds himself with racists is play old footage of Bannon admitting to his affiliation with the evil Alt-Right.

Precisely the same method was applied to the Tea Party as its popularity became threatening to leftists. Clear as day -- once you learn to hear NPR manipulating the narrative, it's hard to miss.

Mick said...

They are using this and the "fake news" meme to shut down #pizzagate, which is simmering below the surface and is about to explode into the mainstream. It reaches the highest levels of government, and exposes the sick satanic deranged nature of those in power. One look at Podesta and you are confronted with the face of evil; and he was an advisor to the Usurper and the Crooked Old Lady. He and his brother are known to have twisted child torture and canabalistic artwork in their homes.

Smoke meet fire.

PB said...

You can only use "alt-right" if you also use "alt-left" and can clearly define both.

Mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilbur said...

'It was the Alt-Right who accused people like Paul Ryan of being a "cuck." '

I've never heard Ryan labeled as a cuckold. It made me chuckle.

Maybe they meant "old kook". I doubt it.

Mick said...

"Precisely the same method was applied to the Tea Party as its popularity became threatening to leftists. Clear as day -- once you learn to hear NPR manipulating the narrative, it's hard to miss".

NPR is clearly a propaganda arm of the government. There is no "news" there. When listening to Diane Reims I get the urge to choke the bitch and finish the job. How the heck does anyone think that she should be talking on the radio? I guess the same people that think Tom Bwokaw, and Bawbawa Waltaws are airable made that decision.

Sharc said...

Agreed that "fake news" is another artificial insertion into the narrative. Citizens, feel free to ignore new media reporting you don't want to hear -- it's probably just that "fake news" you've been hearing about.

Sharc said...

The full term is cuckservative. It's a thing.

rehajm said...

Letting them invent words and meanings for shit in exchange for removing their power to shape shitty policy is a fair trade.

Hagar said...

"Alt-right" are the opponents of "Ctrl-left."

Brando said...

""Alt-right" are the opponents of "Ctrl-left.""

And off to the side are the infamous "Tab-middle" pulling all the strings.

The Drill SGT said...

Hagar wins the thread at 7:16

buwaya said...

One of those cases where some of the process of tactical analysis within the media machine can be glimpsed.
Detailed orders to the retail outlets to follow.

You all do realize this is not something to argue with?
Those media people are your enemies, under orders. They are not persuadable except at the level of their owners.

Alexander said...

They will fail. The left has been trying to ban words forever, but they cannot, because the meaning and feeling behind a word remains, even if people are forced to speak a different combination of letters to express it.

The Alt-Right tells a message that is true and timeless. We are a people. We have a right to exist as a people. We have a right to a nation.

This sentiment cannot be destroyed. #Winning

Sebastian said...

"this recalibration is only happening because Plan A failed." But they got lots of plans. They'll get to P or Q before the end of year 4. Of course, every plan is the same: label the right racist.

traditionalguy said...

Really good riots and flag burnings need a cause to look like the purpose is other than Helter-Skelter destruction of order in America.

The destroy America First crowd are using the Civil Rights marches as the template. That works if WHITE RACISTS are seen everywhere attacking the good a Bolshevik cartoon.

So orders are issued by Field Marshal Soros to use the, "We are marching and burning flags to fight White Racists" as a pretended purpose.

But it's all operational tactics. There is no intellectual angle needed here.It is the banality of evil.

Xmas said...


The "pizzagate" conspiracy theory is pretty interesting. But, for right now it's still just a conspiracy based on possible code words in hacked emails and an unfortunate similarity between a pizza logo and some supposed pedo symbol. As much as I like to say that the FBI memo was well researched and 100% reliable, this is the same sort of memo that had Juggalos listed a violent, nationally organized street gang.

YoungHegelian said...

Please, please stop referring to a white Christian supremacist movement as the ‘alt-right’

If anyone in the press has any evidence that the "Alt-Right" is "Christian" I'd like to see it. Are there aspects of the alt-right that see Christianity as valuable because it's a part of European heritage? Yes. Do they think that Christian morality & the individual Christian's conscience before his God takes precedence over any other moral considerations? Not that I've ever seen. The Left is simply fixated on tying its betes noires into somehow being "Christian".

By the way, it always helps to take a gander at the primary texts themselves, so here is Richard Spencer's speech before the NPI audience on November 21. Read it & make up your own mind.

Anonymous said...

Brando: There does seem to be too much attention paid to the outright racists though. Are they really a big part of anything, or just a loud and attention-getting subset?

They're what's under the "narrative" streetlight, and the pundits are the drunks.

People like Spencer may be attention whores, but you don't have to be louder and more attention-seeking than the next "alt-right" identifier, you just have to be exactly what the journalist is looking for.

AA: I'm all for precision, but I think this recalibration is only happening because Plan A failed.

I agree, but until they let go of the presuppositions behind Plan A, they'll continue to fail.

mikee said...

McCarthyite. Bircher. Reaganite. Anti-Choicer. Neo-Con. Climate Denier. Racist. Sexist. Homophobe. Islamophobe. Alt-Right. Hater.

The song sounds the same, only the words change. "Othering" is a game that is imploding as the vitriolic condemnatory word is now a word of the day, rather than the word of the week, month, year, or administration. Sticks & stones, you silly Dem kids. may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Especially silly ones that are lies from the first syllable.

n.n said...

The [class] diversitists are projecting fast and furious. The Left's anti-native factions have been especially active in domestic and foreign affairs.

n.n said...

The Left's transhuman policies did not start with Pro-Choice but progressed with its establishment. Hint to [class] diversitists:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

If anything, the so-called "alt-right" represents diverse opposition to the reconstitution of institutional racism, sexism, etc. under [class] diversity schemes, as well as anti-native factions running amuck in foreign and domestic affairs, that has been a first-order cause of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change in America, Europe, Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, etc.

Anonymous said...

Sharc: Precisely the same method was applied to the Tea Party as its popularity became threatening to leftists. Clear as day -- once you learn to hear NPR manipulating the narrative, it's hard to miss.

They've become so ham-handed, I can't imagine that anybody but the dullest subscriber could miss it these days.

Good for a larf, though - NPR headline in my newsfeed this morning:

"Muslim Community Fears Backlash After Ohio State Attack"

It is possible to produce high-quality, persuasive propaganda. They should be ashamed of themselves for putting out such a stale, amateurish product.

n.n said...

ThinkProgress has been at the center of a baby hunt carried out against other Progressives, notably against those who did not accept the flat-Earth consensus of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming or its treatment.

The overlapping and convergent interests, including corruption of the market through monopolies and monopolistic forces, and the progress of institutional racism, sexism, etc., advocated and supported by the Left, Right, and immoderate Center have been the driving force to reclaim and restore America.

Martin said...

Last week I had to explain to a friend that "alt right" has no real definition, there is no "alt right" headquarters setting policy and approving statements. It is just a very loose term applied to a wide range of people whose main thing in common is to express lack of respect for conventional liberalism often using sarcasm or over-the-top images and language. Some people use it to describe themselves, but since Hillary's "alt right speech" it has been adopted by the left as a term of abuse.

Analytically, it covers such a broad range of people as to be worthless.

mccullough said...

News outlets that won't use the term radical Islam are perplexed by the term alt-right. Most Americans are concerned about Somali refugee terrorists trying to kill Americans, as they tried at Ohio State yesterday and in St. Cloud a few months ago.

It's very hard to quell fear mongering about violent people while stirring up fear about a small group of white nationalists who aren't trying to
kill anyone.

Peter said...

So, when will NYT and WaPo claim they have a list with the names of hundreds of members of the State Department who are “known alt-Rightists.”

So say hello, Tailgunner Joe.

n.n said...

The so-called "alt-right" is American, not "white nationalist". They are characterized by both their diversity (i.e. individual dignity) and [class] diversity (e.g. race, sex, skin color, etc.).

mockturtle said...

As I said yesterday, the fact that I am both white and a nationalist does not make me a White Nationalist. And I refuse to let the MSM or the Progleft tell me I am.

Leora said...

I first encountered the term alt-right in connection with Milo Yianopoulous also known as Nero. It was kind of "not your parents' conservatives" and nothing to do with white supremacy. More like a right wing remake of the Yippies. I believe the alt-right movement comes out of Gamergate where the gamer community pushed back on attempts to make video gaming a politically correct reserve. You can try googling Sad Puppies for endless discussions.

Unknown said...